The First Step to Stress-Free Selling (TM)



Identify the businesses most likely to advertise with you. Then prioritize them. Call your best prospects before your least likely prospects. As adverse as this sounds, many ad reps call businesses who don't believe in advertising or are not interested in their industry or their reader. If this were so obvious to all reps, I wouldn't be writing about it! The fastest way to make sales hard is to call the wrong businesses, and sadly, many salespeople do just this. Start off with the right prospects and save yourself a lot of time.

Your key prospects are found in these locations:

1. Advertisers in competitive publications. This most obvious source is the one you should prospect first.

2. Current customers running sizes or schedules smaller than they are in competitors or smaller than their competitors are running with you are great prospects. After all, they already believe in and like your publication. What a great place to start!

3. Advertisers who used to do business with you. Just because someone stopped doing business with you does not mean they never will again. Many will come back. Why make it later rather than sooner? Stay in touch with them. Maybe the decision maker left.

4. Advertisers advertise. Seek key prospects in other media (newspaper, radio, television, billboard, yellow pages, internet, etc.) If they meet your criteria (type of business, location, their customer is your reader), these advertisers are excellent prospects.

5. New businesses entering your market or industry. If they believe in advertising (you'll find out easily in an initial conversation), get them early? before your competitors do.

6. Referrals are my favorite prospecting source. They are the easiest to sell! You can turn these leads into sales nearly 100% of the time. Don't be among the unfortunate who do not capitalize on this tool.

When asking for referrals, be specific. Don't ask, "Do you know anyone who would be interested in advertising in our magazine?" Your answer will probably be "No." Ask if they know a specific business (have a list of your top prospects), specific type of business, a business in a specific geographical area. You get the idea. Narrow your request and you will help your customers help you.

Make sure the leads are good. Referrers must know the person they are referring well. If they say, "SoAndSo should advertise with you," and they don't know this person, they're right, but this does not qualify as a referral. Just a good idea you probably already had.

Pre-Call Planning

"To me, selling begins with investing time in preparation and planning," Donald Trump.

Determining and gathering the information you need prior to contact facilitates Getting In and helps make first calls successful.

At a minimum, know the key places your prospects advertise before you get in touch with them. Know the size ad they run, their main message, and have copies of their ads. You will learn a lot about them. For example, are they running a consistent, cohesive campaign, or is every ad different in look, content and tone? How organized is the company in their approach to advertising? This will clue you.

Who should you ask for? If your first call sounds like, "I'd like to speak to the person responsible for advertising," you are likely to get them on the phone before you know their name. This does not make you look good. Learn who to call before getting them on the phone.

How long have they been in business? Who is their target market? Find this information and a lot more by visiting their web site or reading their ads. A new business has different objectives than one in business for decades. Does their target market match your audience?

Arm yourself with this basic information about your prospects, and you will make Getting In easier and build trust faster.

Skip this preparatory step, and you will contact many people before you find the ones who are right for you. Why would you want to do that?

Next month, will discuss Step 2: Getting In. Create Introductions that Eliminate Hurdles. Get Past Gatekeepers, Voice Mail and eMail, one of today's biggest challenges. Get Permission to meet with you on your terms.


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